Yesterday we posted Alien Life Discovered? Again? Really? That was about a claim by NASA scientist Richard Hoover who said he had found alien bacteria in meteorites he had been studying.
It didn’t take long for the whole blogosphere to react to Hoover’s claim, and to speak disparagingly about the “journal” in which he had published. Now NASA has reacted. They’ve issued a brief statement that some might think is too mild, but we think it’s rather elegant. It can be found here: NASA Statement on Astrobiology Paper by Richard Hoover, and it says, with bold font added by us:
NASA is a scientific and technical agency committed to a culture of openness with the media and public. While we value the free exchange of ideas, data, and information as part of scientific and technical inquiry, NASA cannot stand behind or support a scientific claim unless it has been peer-reviewed or thoroughly examined by other qualified experts.
In other words, Hoover doesn’t speak for NASA in this matter. He’s paddling his own canoe. The statement continues:
This paper was submitted in 2007 to the International Journal of Astrobiology. However, the peer review process was not completed for that submission.
Uh oh. Here’s the rest of it:
NASA also was unaware of the recent submission of the paper to the Journal of Cosmology or of the paper’s subsequent publication. Additional questions should be directed to the author of the paper.
So Hoover’s discovery — such as it is — remains on the scientific fringe. But all is not lost. Your Curmudgeon can still find something to report about this situation. There has already been some creationist response, and it was apparently posted before NASA’s statement because that statement isn’t mentioned.
The creationist post is found at the website Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the cornerstone of the creationist empire built by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the genius who also brought you the mind-boggling Creation Museum. The AIG article is titled Alleged Alien Life in Meteorite, Our Initial Comments.
Before reading that article, we should remind ourselves of the AIG position on alien life, which we wrote about here: Ken Ham Says There’s No Extraterrestrial Life. To be fair, ol’ Hambo says that there’s a very slim chance of some primitive life out there, but there’s definitely no alien intelligence, and he personally thinks — for scriptural reasons — that there’s no life anywhere but on Earth.
With that background, we can better appreciate AIG’s initial reaction to Hoover’s announcement that he found alien life. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Headlines over the weekend boldly proclaimed that we are not alone in the universe. This confident assertion relies upon reports that a NASA scientist has discovered tiny fossils of alien life in a meteorite.
Yes, we know. Skipping their description of Hoover’s claim, AIG says:
Answers in Genesis has responded to similar reports in the past and we will be prepared to offer a statement in the future after the research has been examined by the scientific community. Until that point, there are some important points to remember as you think about this issue.
Oh goodie — they give us the proper conclusions right up front:
First, notice that the desire to prove an evolutionary origin of man is a driving force in the Journal of Cosmology (i.e., “the implications are that life is everywhere, and that life on Earth may have come from other planets”). This is flatly contradicted by the Bible’s historically accurate account which reveals that God directly created life on earth.
Interesting criticism. Note what they didn’t say — that the Journal of Cosmology isn’t peer-reviewed. AIG can’t say that because their own in-house journal shares that characteristic, and its “driving force” is the polar opposite of the one where Hoover published. Dueling worldviews, in other words, but not science.
They make a few additional, rather routine observations, such as the risk that Hoover’s samples may have been contaminated. Nothing startling there. Here’s how the article ends:
Christians have no need to worry about this latest proclamation since we have the only reliable and infallible record of earth history in the Bible.
That’s how they deal with alien life at AIG.
See also: Alien Life, Babu, Pravda, and Creationism.
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